Korean Air Lines Co., South Korea's top air carrier, said Thursday that it has stopped carrying shark fin cargo, becoming the latest airline to join global efforts to save endangered shark species.
The decision, which took effect on June 10, came three months after government delegates at the triennial World's Wildlife Conference in Thailand voted to protect five shark species by controlling their trade and harvest, though they did not impose a full ban.
In May, the New York State Assembly unanimously passed a bill banning the trade of shark fins used in shark fin soup, a popular Chinese delicacy.
"In view of these movements and in order to support the global call of protecting endangered shark species, Korean Air has recently reviewed its policy to stop the carriage of shark fins," the carrier said in an English-language statement. It also said it will continue to participate in various movements to protect the global ecosystem.
Asiana Airlines Inc., South Korea's No. 2 flag carrier, also said it has decided to stop flying shark fin cargo, though it did not give a specific time frame.
The South Korean airlines' move comes after Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific halted flying shark fin cargo.
Every year, about 73 million sharks are stripped of their fins before being thrown back into the ocean to die slowly and painfully, according to environmental activists.
Last year, South Korea imported eight tons of dried shark fins worth US$570,000 from Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan, according to data compiled by the Korea Customs Service.